Defending the Customer Success team with Cross Functional Peers Questioning Value

Peter Larsen
Peter Larsen Senior Director, NA Customer SuccessMember | Enthusiast ✭
edited June 2020 in Customer Success

With pressure on all Tech Software companies to at a minimum, maintain the revenue status quo (and margins), to minimize churn and continue the upward trend in NPS, I continue to come across extended teammates (i.e. Sales, Pre-sales, Sales Ops, Prod. Mgmt., etc.) questioning the value of a CSM. "Aren't they just glorified Tech Support or Critical Account Managers?"

And though I am of course able to present our successful measurable results (upsell, cross sell, decreased churn, etc.), I still come across the naysayers.

How do I "put them to bed?" Thanks.

Answers

  • Steven Forth
    Steven Forth Managing Partner Founding Partner | Expert ✭✭✭

    I wonder if this says something deeper about the company culture. Customer success is based on making sure that customers are getting value from what they have been sold, value to customer (V2C) so to speak. Do the people questioning customer success understand how value is delivered to customers? If they do, can they demonstrate or confirm that value? If I was feeling irritable, perhaps from too much screen time, I might push back and question if sales knows what value promises are being made and how they are being kept. The same is true for product. But that would probably not be productive.

    So I would invite these people to sketch the customer journey with me. Then talk about how value is communicated, delivered and captured across the customer journey.

    The shift to subscription models means that all parts of the company need to understand the customer journey and the role that each plays along that journey. Once you get people to think in terms of the customer journey (a service design way of thinking) the critical role of customer success becomes obvious to anyone who cares about the customer. If they don't care about the customer, well, they should probably be encouraged to work for one of your competitors.

  • Peter Larsen
    Peter Larsen Senior Director, NA Customer Success Member | Enthusiast ✭
    edited June 2020

    @Steven Forth - Much thanks for your prompt feedback. And "yes", sales and the other critical company stakeholders are well-versed in the creation and execution of customer journey's and the role we each play in increasing the opportunity for our customers to reach their desired business outcomes, etc.

    My hope is that this "push-back/questioning" by them is just seasonal; and the ship will be righter fairly quickly.

  • Steven Forth
    Steven Forth Managing Partner Founding Partner | Expert ✭✭✭

    Yes I have found the customer journey map to be a good way to build alignment. But one has to layer in value communicated, value delivered and value captured. Most customer journey maps do not have swim lanes for these critical exchanges.

    The other thing it can be useful to include in a journey map are the skills needed at each touch point. This should be the vendor skills, customer skills and any partner skills.

    One thing that can help to integrate value across the customer journey is to have a value calculator that is used by sales to communicate and establish value and by customer success to track value delivered and commitment to keeping promises.

  • Kerri Wienbeck
    Kerri Wienbeck Sr Director Customer Success Enablement Founding Member | Scholar ✭✭

    Hi Peter - I've found success in providing information or data that other teams don't have. For example, a combined view of data or a trend analysis that leads to new insights that impact account strategy. These insights can up-level conversations showing the difference between the CSM and their more technical counterparts. In essence, creating a pull strategy instead of attempting a push strategy.

  • Steven Forth
    Steven Forth Managing Partner Founding Partner | Expert ✭✭✭

    I like @Kerri Wienbeck 's suggestion, especially if the data can help them to do their own jobs better. So, what data can customer success feedback to sales that will make sales more successful in their own terms (help them meet their number and earn commissions.)

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